August 26, (THEWILL) – The midweek Carabao EFL Cup provided the miserably poor English Premier League side Arsenal the opportunity to audition for another potentially difficult EPL game as the Gunners comfortably blew away Championship side West Bromwich Albion 6-0 to progress to the third round.
It was also the chance to spring back to goal-scoring for the misfiring Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who netted his third hat-trick for Arsenal. His goals were added to one each for Nicolas Pepe, Bukayo Saka and Alexandre Lacazette for the first win for Mikel Arteta’s side this season.
The very inexperienced West Brom squad actually began strongly and had the first and clearest chance at goal. Tom Fellows, the 18-year-old forward for the hosts, hit the first warning shot of the match in the 11th minute. Arsenal’s debutant goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale was well aware of the danger and kept it out.
It was the high press of the Baggies, which gave them the chance to have a go at the Arsenal danger area that was also their undoing, which was part of the inexperience in the team. The Gunners took advantage of the space to run through when they broke the deadlock with their very first shot on target.
Aubameyang reacted the fastest to tap home from point-blank range in the 17th minute after after a low drive from teammate Bukayo Saka was parried into his path by Alex Palmer, in the West Brom goal. The goal undid the initial momentum that the youngsters of Valerien Ismael’s team had built before that.
The confidence of the Gunners only grew from that point on. The lead extended to two just before halftime. Nicholas Pepe exposed West Brom’s high line and fired a shot off the woodwork. However, it again fell mercifully for Aubameyang to register his second tap-in of the match.
Pepe was not to be denied a first half goal though as Arsenal pressed further in the injury-time of the first period. The Gunners took on a counter that saw Saka feed Aubameyang the ball. The captain went for a hattrick but his attempt bounced off the West Brom keeper. Aubameyang switched it up with an overhead kick pass that landed to Pepe to score and the visitors took a three-goal lead into the break.
Three became four in no time as play resumed. Saka played a clever one-two with Martin Odegaard, who neatly backheeled the ball to the England international to slot away brilliantly. The hattrick Aubameyang was looking for came shortly after the hour mark as the striker curled his finish beyond Palmer.
Arteta introduced striker Lacazette for midfielder Granit Xhaka and the Frenchman showed no signs of rustiness coming off the bench. He showed what Arsenal had missed in his absence by wrapping up the scoring with a 70th minute first-time drive into the bottom corner to put Arsenal six up and ease them into the next round.
It was as easy as a training session for the Gunners but they are back to the reality of the EPL with a fixture against League champions Manchester by midday on Saturday in a game that Arsenal requires to begin to add some points to their standings on the table after the first two losses against Brentford and Chelsea in the opening games of the season.
City will not allow them the liberty to operate their game plan the way they were able to do against the Baggies. All the same, Arteta will be pleased to have several key squad members back including hattrick hero Aubameyang and his strike partner Lacazette. Odegaard also held his own in the midfield and Ramsdale was good when called upon in goal.
All these positives can turn to naught especially against the champions who have enough firepower to keep Arsenal’s defense at work all day while the City’s compact backline will ensure Arsenal’s strike force cannot do the type of damage West Brom suffered.